In common with other cultural shifts, Japanese garden design has not been immune to political and social upheaval, nor has it been immune to the opportunities that turmoil provides for change and innovation.

As outside pressure mounted on Japan to open up to trade with the West, opposition to the Tokugawa shogunate reached critical mass. With the dissolution of the feudal system and the restoration of the emperor in the new Meiji Era (1868-1912), many gardens in Japan faced near extinction.

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